Rating: ★★★★★

As a person that’s constantly switching out cameras and accessories, having the right kind of storage is extremely important.  I don’t want to have to have one bag for a DSLR, another pouch for a lens, my backpack for a video camera, and a point and shoot in my pocket – that’s just too much to worry about.  So when Lowepro came to me to check out their bags designed for today’s camera enthusiasts, I obviously jumped at the opportunity – especially since the strap on my old camera bag had just snapped.  So how well did the Classified Sling 180 hold up to the rigors of my use and abuse?

Quite simply, it’s one of the best camera bags I’ve ever used.

When choosing a bag from Lowepro, you should always start on their website – even if you’re buying it somewhere else.  On the Lowepro site there is a bag selector, and you tell it exactly what you’re looking for.  You start off choosing what you’ll be toting – point and shoot, DSLR, or video camera, and then tell it how you’ll be using it – casual, pro, or enthusiast.  After that, you get to add different accessories to what you’re carrying – things like lenses, tripods, memory cards, and even a laptop.  At the bottom of the Bagfinder screen, it constantly shows you how many bag choices you’ll have so you know exactly what you’re looking at when you’re done adding things.  Lastly, you’ll pick options for the bag such as features (want it waterproof or with an all-weather cover?), and carrying style.  The next screen brings up all the choices you’ll have based on what you said you needed – it’s all quite intuitive!

At any rate, the Classified Sling 180 is just great – there’s more than enough room for a “normal” person to be able to hold all their gear with room to spare.  Right now I have one DSLR, four point and shoots, and four camcorders sitting inside of it, along with extra batteries, chargers for each, and my little laptop – and there’s still more room.  When I start going through it, it makes me think that I’ve somehow gotten my hands on a portable hole!

One of the nicest things about it though, is that once you open up the main camera compartment, everything you see inside of it is adjustable.  Everything connects via Velcro in order to make sure it changes to meet your needs.  Need one space bigger to hold a telephoto lens?  Just pull out the piece in the center and you’re good to go.  Need to hold something thin like one of the Lensbaby Optics?  Put in an extra vertical divider with ease.  You’re really only limited by your own imagination here as to how you want to set it up.

The Classified Sling 180 also has three nice little pouches on the top of it’s main compartment to hold separate memory cards.  If you’re like me, you lose memory cards pretty easily, so it’s nice to have someplace to store them that’s NOT in a camera.  There’s also another zippered area on the side that can be used to store things – I put extra batteries in it because it’s got an elastic area that just seems like that’s what it was made for (at least to me). One other thing that the Classified Sling 180 has is a hidden “raincoat” – just pull it out from the bottom and wrap it around the Sling (it’s only big enough to cover the area that wouldn’t be against your body), and the outside will be protected in cast you get caught in a rain storm.

Now the laptop storage area is the only thing that’s not really big with this bag – you can only fit up to a nine inch netbook in it (however I’ve been able to stuff my 10.1 Galaxy Tab in it, but I don’t recommend doing so).  It would have really been amazing if it was just a tad bigger – even being able to hold a thirteen incher would have been a HUGE improvement, but you can’t have everything.  Speaking of not having everything, the Classified Sling 180 doesn’t have a cell phone holder.  I realize most people just keep it in their pockets anyways, but it would have been a special little touch to see one on here.

One of the other features I almost forgot to mention, was that on the outside it has a special area designed to hold onto a tripod.  Just strap it down, and you’re ready to go.  Just in case you need another reason to get this (I mean really?  I didn’t make a good enough argument already??), it’s also airline ready – meaning it will fit in an overhead compartment so you don’t have to leave your expensive cameras in the hands of bag chuckers.

My final score is an easy five out of five stars.

The bottom line: While Lowepro didn’t reinvent the wheel by adding a netbook compartment to a camera bag, the way that they made it pretty much fully customizable ensures that this will be one of the best camera bags you’ll ever use.

Pros:

  • Customizable, customizable, and did I mention customizable?
  • It has a lot of padding to make sure you’re expensive cameras stay safe
  • Very comfortable to wear, and easily adjustable straps

Cons:

  • Not enough room for a real laptop, only a small netbook
  • The lack of a cell phone holder is noticeable
  • Not as comfortable when a tripod is attached

You can get a Lowepro Classified Sling 180 from Amazon for $109.95



Staff